Halloween comes to The County
BUG GUTS & BEAUTY
By Orpheus Allison
Preparations for winter have been underway for a few weeks in Aroostook County. Marking the beginning of winter are the stacks of wood, splitters, pellet piles and saws, there are more obvious signs of winter approaching.
It begins with something simple. Usually a small flag will be hung on a thin pole outside a house. With some sort of orange and black design it signals Halloween. The County loves Halloween. There are numerous stories of ghosts and fiends who wander the roads and field of northern Maine. Most are fairly harmless and good for a laugh. Following this are the displays. Years ago most families waited until Halloween was over to decorate their house and yard with lights. This is changing.
It used to be that on Halloween night a drive would take you past pumpkins carved in a variety of grimaces meant to welcome the friend and scare away the ghosts. Blackened shapes with glowing candles lit up the night. Candles replaced with small lamps and strings of lights now challenge the poukas and horsemen of the night. We do not suffer darkness lightly.
An example of the change can be seen on Academy and Third streets in Presque Isle. Across from the old training school one house is bedecked with a variety of ghoulish lights. Glowing eyes and shapes on the lawn, steps and porch of the house light up the night. It is not known whether they are advertising for spirits or scaring them away. It is a harbinger of light shows to come. As soon as Halloween is over out come the Christmas decorations.
Driving through the long nights these morsels of brilliant blues, greens, reds, whites, and yellows, light the hillside and the streets of The County. For a few weeks those dark corners of night are pushed back with whimsy and character.
It is a pity that there is not a contest by any of the stores for the best outdoor display. Walmart, Mardens, Lowe’s and others make a big deal about outdoor decorations. Yet there be no visible reward to those who take the time to make the beginning of winter a little more palatable. Yet no trophies or challenges. How about filling the empty storefront windows with Halloween and Christmas displays. Empty space is best when used for alternative purposes.
Halloween brings a few ghouls and monsters. The houses are defended well with armies of pumpkins and scarecrows their pennants hanging from the trees and hedges. These will be replaced in time with squads of reindeer, stars, elves and other lights. We will not let darkness take over our entire day. If it’s dark we put out a light. Hello Winter!
Orpheus Allison is a photojournalist living in the County. He began his journalism career at WAGM television later working in many different areas of the US. After twenty years of television he changed careers and taught in China and Korea. Graduating from UMPI he earned a master of liberal arts degree from the University of North Carolina.